21 January, 2010

In the name of .....?

Two surau were set on fire, police said, following a spate of violence against churches triggered by a row over the use of the word "Allah".

Eleven churches across the mainly Muslim nation have been pelted with Molotov cocktails, stones and paint in recent weeks, in attacks that have escalated ethnic tensions.

The two surau, or Muslim prayer halls, both in Muar, Johor, with one sustaining serious damage when came under arson attack early this morning.

The church attacks broke out after a December 31 court ruling that overturned a ban on non-Muslims using "Allah" as a translation for "God." The ruling has been suspended pending an appeal.

The row is the latest in a string of religious disputes that have erupted in recent years, straining relations between Muslim Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians who fear the country is being "Islamised."

Police said they had arrested eight people over the first of the church attacks, a firebombing that gutted the ground floor of an Assemblies of God church in suburban Kuala Lumpur.

Religion and language are sensitive issues in multiracial Malaysia, which experienced deadly race riots in 1969.

Arabic speaking non-Muslims, including Christians, have for centuries used “Allah” as a translation for “God.”, but our government maintains that “Allah” is an Islamic word and use by non-Muslims could confuse Muslims into converting to those faiths.

Reactions, opinions, thoughts, comments - all came fast and furious, some which spoke objective, level-headed truth, some which spread dishonest, ignorant lies.

But the young, Christians and Muslims alike, have a better head on their shoulders, and they are the people whose eyes have been glued to both the new and traditional media to sift through the articles and commentaries to see the biggest picture of all: The burnings are actions not condoned nor tolerated by any religion, least of all Islam, and many sincerely believe that the use of 'Allah' to refer to God is not a matter resolved by violence.

So, Why in God’s Name?

Cry, my beloved country, whether or not it could have been "staged", the world is watching, not Avatar, but Malaysia, the 1Malaysia.

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